On finding an audience
I do internet stuff for sixteen years. Like crafting I mean. With a lot of lucky stumbles I got to be involved in really big online enterprises. I know the marketing and the content management, I know the reach and the workflow building, I know a lot of things, and none seem to help in my striving for an audience :)
I am currently unsure if the aim is finding or building an audience. Finding one appears to be harder. Do you know which of my Medium stories is queen of stats? The meaning of life!
The meaning of life
The reason for our existence is to defeat time, in life’s eternal battle with it.
Sure, it makes sense, I mean, it’s the meaning of life written in there. But then again the real reason for these stats is, well, Reddit. Some people there thought it was a good read. After that nothing I posted in r/philosophy ever got beyond the moderators, it wasn’t philosophical enough.
My second trending post is about putting a price on work.
If you wouldn’t do your job for free, its ok to carry on doing it.
And have a peaceful mind and a happy life too
Again, another sub Reddit at work. My self promotion was tolerated for a while, but then my posts got the shaft ’cause rules about self promotion.
The bronze medal of my stats goes to:
A funny little thing. This is the only one which actually got read and viewed b/c of Medium’s recommends. But it is also a 50 second read.
All the things I’ve posted before following got to triple digits are under water. Things just don’t percolate. Anything which is longer than 4 minutes has reading engagement fall sharply, -70% sharp in my case.
Self promotion sucks. All communities are focused on participation. But I have a weak network. I am not in highly sharing circles and worse I am in a weirdly diverse social conectome. I tried at some point to buy self promotion on Facebook and Reddit. It is a sad thing to do :) as a “writer” and “thinker”, so I couldn’t say it didn’t work, it was just too painful to do it, so I quit that.
But if you don’t pay, you must balance participation with self promotion. On Hacker News at a certain point their algorithm sunk me. There was a nice honeymoon of about three self promotional links which drove traffic inbound and then I fell off the chart.
So building an audience becomes a full time job. I have a full time job. I have a life centered on the perks of, you know, the worst addiction of them all: a paycheck. Even when I didn’t have a full time job, somehow making things was higher on my time allocation than thought tinkering.
Finding an audience is so far a matter of luck. There is no good platform or system for content distribution and discovery . Good things don’t percolate because freshness is a good predictor of relevance. Stories are hard to promote because we don’t analyze nuance and meaning but similar keywords. Shit content is trending because we like to like what our friends like so that they know we like them.
Sure, there is always the possibility that I am shit and ya know I just don’t stick. Nevertheless, I’ll focus on assuming that is not the case. I make this assumption b/c I got emails from random people with a nice thank you or an encouragement to go on, I got compliments on stories and writing from people who had no advantage in making them (I don’t trade in followings or recommends or likes or shares, b/c I also read my feed and going tit for tat kills off any relevance of what I get on any platform), and in general I seem to make good points.
The question is complex. As Facebook is phasing out human fiddling with their editorial effort and it is leaving more and more to the trained software to decide what stories are worthy of attention, as all platforms kill the time based feeds and move to recommendation systems, as Google has basically became the library of Alexandria merged with the oracle of Delphi, why did I have to block Jon and Benjamin? I think entropy in output would do a great metric in recommendation algorithms, one can only like so much distilled life advice.
Do we still have a place for “organic” or “amateur” or “enthusiast” in the dictionaries of the Internet?
Sure, there is that constant pleasure of muse engagement, her soft but urgent voice energizing every protein bind in your body, her radiance electrifying each dendrite and your submission to her whims and moods giving that contentment which makes the anguish warm and fuzzy. No audience required for all this. But this is individual, this is egocentric, sometimes egoist, no one shares these pleasures and this happiness.
The audience is for joy. For the shared experience, for the ego of the writer feeding on validation and the ego of the reader feeding on confirmation. No shame in that. Shared experience fosters the idea exchange, the participation, the call to arms for constructive change, the whispers that turn into paradigm shifts, the vision that inspires someone else’s action. If one can’t find it nor can one build it, it remains then to be cast in a gypsum of opinions, lacking debate, hoping you’re strong enough to stand the flattening of the Earth.
Of course, my plea remains, love me,